OPB asks WNET for “assurance” that funder didn’t influence Pension Peril

Oregon Public Broadcasting has asked New York’s WNET to demonstrate that no “improper influence” was exerted by the primary funder of its special news series covering public pensions. OPB said in a Feb. 13 statement that it is “seeking assurance from WNET” that its Pension Peril series was not subject to improper editorial influence. In a PandoDaily article published earlier this week, reporter and columnist David Sirota called attention to a major funder of the series, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. According to Sirota, co-founder John Arnold has supported political efforts to reduce retirement benefits for public employees. Sirota argued that Arnold’s support for the WNET production calls its impartiality into question.

OPB meets funding goal for new Southwest Washington bureau

12/16/13: This item has been updated. Oregon Public Broadcasting is preparing to open a permanent bureau in Southwest Washington state by early 2014, and has surpassed $400,000 in funding to make it happen. The bureau will allow OPB to deepen its reporting on Washington’s Clark County, which is located just across the Columbia River from OPB headquarters in Portland, as well as cross-border issues and the Washington State legislature in Olympia. It will contain one staff member, a full-time multimedia reporter, to start. Stories produced by the bureau will be shared across public radio stations and for-profit media organizations in the Pacific Northwest, and with national outlets such as NPR and the PBS NewsHour.

Insistent sponsors put newsrooms on alert

Underwriters of public radio programs increasingly want to link their names more closely to particular stories and reporting projects, according to station executives, a trend that is requiring journalists to be more vigilant in fighting perceptions of potential conflicts of interest.

OPB Radio overhauls schedule; drops six shows, adds seven

Oregon Public Broadcasting is making major changes to its broadcast radio lineup as of Aug. 6, reports The Oregonian. “All the long-form music programs are going away from OPB radio,” John Bell, director of member communications for OPB, told the newspaper. Gone are The Thistle and Shamrock, the Celtic music show the station has carried since the 1980s; the local In House and American Routes are moving to opbmusic.org and HD radio. The variety show eTown is canceled, as are the comedy program Michael Feldman’s Whad’Ya Know?

Chapin moves from CNN to NPR, C-SPAN founder steps down, and more…

NPR tapped CNN veteran Edith Chapin to run its foreign desk
News chief Margaret Low Smith announced Chapin’s appointment last week along with another change on its foreign desk: Didi Schanche, a former Associated Press correspondent and editor who joined NPR in 2001, is to become deputy senior foreign editor. When Chapin officially signs on May 14, she will oversee NPR foreign correspondents based in 17 bureaus worldwide as well as a team of editors and reporters in Washington, D.C. She succeeds longtime foreign desk editor Loren Jenkins, who departed last November. Chapin has spent her entire career at CNN, beginning in 1987. Based in London in the early 1990s, she covered events in Bosnia, Rwanda, Zaire and Ireland. For seven years she directed editorial coverage from CNN’s New York bureau, including its reporting on 9/11 and its aftermath.

Party backs GOP nomination debate at OPB in March

Oregon Public Broadcasting will produce and provide to NPR and PBS stations exclusive coverage of a Republican presidential debate from its Portland studios March 19, 2012. The 90-minute debate “will come at a critical time in the campaign” before anyone sews up the GOP nomination, OPB President Steve Bass predicted in a memo to stations. “Super Tuesday is on March 6, but delegate counts indicate that it will not be possible for the nomination to be won by any candidate by then. Political observers believe that the nomination contest could very likely go into the late spring.”

The Republican National Committee has officially sanctioned the debate, which “virtually assures the participation of the front-running candidates,” Bass said. OPB is partnering with the Oregon GOP and The Washington Times to present the debate.